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Tennessee mayor: Barber didn’t seem suicidal

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (AP ) — A barber who killed himself at a City Council meeting Thursday hadn’t seemed suicidal during a private meeting three weeks earlier, the mayor said Friday.

“It’s a sad situation,” Mayor Johnny Piper told Nashville’s WTVF-TV. “You don’t ... know what people go through in life.”

Piper had met with Ronald “Bo” Ward and his wife after the barber requested a meeting about his rezoning request. When that request was denied by a 5-7 vote Thursday night, Ward pulled out a small handgun and shot himself in the head.

“Y’all have put me under ... I’m out of here,” Ward said before firing.

Ward had said he needed his home to be rezoned as commercial to increase his property value. That would allow him to secure a loan to offset debt he incurred expanding his shop, which is in another location near the Fort Campbell Army post.

Missy Graham, the mayor’s spokeswoman, told The Associated Press on Friday that part of the mayor’s discussion with Ward and his wife was about Ward’s financial situation, but he had not seemed suicidal.

“Nothing would have given him (Piper) any indication that this was going to happen,” she said.

Ward was well known for supporting soldiers from the nearby Fort Campbell Army post and was once recognized by its former commander, Gen. David Petraeus. His barbershop was often visited by media reporting on the local economic impact of thousands of soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division being deployed to Iraq.

“He treated soldiers like his own children,” said George Heath, a longtime patron of Bo’s Barber Shop and the Fort Campbell public affairs officer.

In 2004, former Fort Campbell commander Gen. David Petraeus, now the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, sent Ward a postcard during the division’s first deployment to Iraq, thanking him for keeping his shop open during the deployment and “giving haircuts to children of our families.”

The current commander of the 101st, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, said Ward was well known by soldiers from generals to privates.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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